American university tuition is the most expensive in the world and students are increasingly taking measures that show they're acutely aware of this. According to Ulrich Grothus, the deputy secretary general of the German Academic Exchange Service, around 4,300 are now studying at German schools. "We've seen an overall increase in international students in this country over the last 10 years, but the increase for Americans has been much faster” he said.
From 2003 to 2013 there has been a 56 % increase, making Germany one of the most popular destinations for overseas education.
Many of the schools’ programs are in english, and tuition is usually free. This has made Germany the third most popular place for American students to study overseas. The UK and Canada take the lead.
Germany has high education quality, which is also a plus. London’s Times Higher Education ranked three German schools in the top 50 of about 20,000 higher education institutions throughout the world.
Casey Detrow, a student at Humboldt University in Berlin, one of the top rated schools, is seeking a master’s degree in American Studies at the German school. "[It] offers me every bit of the academic challenge and intellectual stimulation that any top university in the U.S. would offer," she said. She chose Humboldt instead of six other American schools that accepted her, including Columbia and Berkeley.
She said, "I just have time and space in Berlin that I really think I wouldn't have access to if I were living in the Bay Area, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago. I have an affordable lifestyle and, you know, I have a room of my own. I have time and space to sit in my little apartment and kind of exhale and read and study."
Detrow rents a small apartment in a bohemian area of Friedrichshain. She pays for this and most of her living expenses with a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service, something not possible for many in the U.S.
She pays nothing for tuition.
"I really cannot even compare that to what I would be getting in the United States. When you are talking free versus $50,000, I feel like there is no contest. I can't justify going back,” she explained.
Germany opposes education fees, seeing them as unjust, and there is a market for young, skilled people, which is why many students choose to study abroad and experience education in ways that the U.S. does not offer.